Friday, November 24, 2017

Into the Woods

The forest of Val'sharah crawled. In its southern portions, forest life skittered to and fro, acting out their proper place in the food chains as intended. Tree branches swayed in the wind, their leaves fluttering to the ground. To the north, the very ground itself pulsed red with corruption. Even with druids seeking to cleanse it from the face of Azeroth, with its source dead, the task appeared to be ages from completion.

She stared down at it from the top of a hill. Peering through twisted branches and decaying foliage. Somewhere in the dead section of the words, according to a mage in Dalaran, lay a necromancer. A powerful, dangerous necromancer. One who had taken advantage of all of the chaos of the emergence of the Emerald Nightmare, and hidden themselves away from the busy druids of the forest. All in the pursuit of conducting experiments in his chosen school of magic, away from prying eyes.

Except a pair of prying eyes had arrived, searching specifically for him. A task that was going to take some time, she realized, upon taking in just how large the actual area of corruption was. Some of it could be ruled out. The rough and ramshackle huts were no place for a proper necromancer, she assumed. People like that wanted their own space, confined, and well protected from the outside. Which narrowed suitable locations to caves and proper housing. The latter of which she restricted to the elven structures that still had their roofs and walls.

Her days and nights were spent creeping through every inch of land she could cover. Avoiding druids and the beasts that followed them in the process proved easy enough, especially given that their focus was elsewhere. The corrupted creatures that skulked about the woods were her true foe. One she did her best to avoid contact with, lest she give away her presence to anyone who came across the corpse.

Nearly a week had passed before her search bore fruit. Upon approaching one elven hut, she found herself unable to take a single step closer to the building. Looking to her feet, she found a skeletal hand extending from the ground, grasping at both of her ankles.

"Huh," she muttered, to no one in particular, bending over to pry one of the hands bony fingers away from her similarly bony ankle. A single step forward only prompted a new hand to emerge and take hold.

Looking back up at the house itself, she noted a light flickering from window to window. A curtain being pulled back here and there as the person inside peered outside to examine their intruder. She stood there, arms blandly at her side, mid-stride, and waited. It was another minute before someone emerged from the structure.

His black hair was slicked back against his head, both with what looked to be some sort of gel, and with sweat. The tip of his beard almost reached his stomach, the rest of it a mangled mess of hair that looked as though it had never been maintained. Dark lines created the outline for his eyes, which were narrowed firmly in her direction. A tattered robe, which was covered in muck, completed his look.

Her right hand lingered close to her dagger, ready to pull it free should he attempt to get close. The other drifted behind her cloak, preparing to pull from the belt of blades that wrapped around her back. Neither proved to be necessary, as the man kept his distance, grimy fingers slowly stroking his beard.

"A member of the Scourge," he murmured, to no one but himself, "No, wait. A member of the Forsaken. Wandering in my neck of the woods." He slowly approached her, but never within arms reach, eyes scanning her down to the most minute detail. "I have always appreciated the Scourge's work with your people. A bit sloppy in terms of construction, perhaps, but the sheer ability for mass production is incredible. Incredibly difficult to recreate as an individual. Not quite as strong as the death knight, but not as difficult to create, either."

She glanced around, as though to some set of unseen onlookers, before looking back to him, "Uh. Thanks. I think."

A small grin was visible behind the beard, "Yes, you're welcome. Short lived as the praise may be. You've daggers at your side, and a will of your own. And an assassin on my doorstep means so many things. All inevitable." He took in a sigh, looking back towards his current place of residence, "I shall have to take to packing after I've taken care of you. What an ordeal that will be."

"Not," she said, drawing his attention again, "Not. I'm not here. To kill you. Or anything. Unless you. You try to kill me."

He blinked, turning back to her, "Not here to kill me." His hand came up to stroke his beard, "Then what could you possibly seek with someone like me."

Sharp fingers rose to rub the back of her neck, "I. Uh. Want." She paused, staring at her surroundings for a moment, "Want. You to make. Uh. I guess. Just. Make. Bring me back to life."

His hand dropped as he drew closer once more, "Ah. So you wish me to raise you from the dead. Again."

She shook her head, "No. I want. Want you to. To make me alive."

Once more he took to stroking his beard, trying to grasp onto her meaning. Eventually he shook his head, chuckling, "You wish me to return you to...To a state of actual life. Not undeath, but life." She slowly nodded her head, and in turn he shook his, "Oh my dear corpse, all my magicks can do is reproduce your current state. Perhaps improve it, but in the end, you are a corpse. Your vessel is a rotted thing, and your soul corrupted by the magic that ties the two together. Practitioners of the type of magic that could bring the dead back to life are those who work with the Light."

Behind her mask, her lips sank into a frown. Her shoulders slouched more than usual, "Okay. Thanks. I guess. Need to find a. Priest or something."

A dark laugh escaped him as he nodded, turning to approach his hovel, "Oh yes. You do that. Do tell me how that goes for you, working with that priest."

Soon enough he had departed, and with him, the skeletal hands that had held her in place. Staring down at the ground, she frowned again when she noticed that they hadn't drawn back into the ground, but rather hand simply slumped against the dirt. Bringing her hands up, she compared her sharpened fingertips to the pair settled into the dirt. Sickly green flesh still stuck to sections of her fingers, one of the few differences she could identify. Clinching her fists, she dropped her arms to her sides, and turned to depart the area. A dark thought lingering over her the entire way back towards civilization.

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